NY Jets: Redrafting Gang Green’s 2019 NFL Draft class
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets had their fair share of hits and misses in the 2019 NFL Draft. With the benefit of hindsight, we look back and redraft their entire draft class.
The NY Jets know all about the feeling of a draft-day regret. Over the years, the Jets have had their fair share of draft blunders and it’s left them looking back on what could have been.
Whether discussing failed first-round busts such as Calvin Pryor, Darron Lee, or Quinton Coples, the Jets surely wish that they had the chance to make plenty of picks again.
Hindsight is a dangerous, dangerous idea.
Unfortunately, it is completely hypothetical to envision the notion of “hindsight” ever being useful, but it is always fun to speculate. So what if the Jets had the chance to do it all over again?
What if Gang Green could go back and re-draft their 2019 NFL Draft class with the benefit of hindsight? Which players would they snatch up and which picks — if any — would remain the same?
Let’s take a look at a theoretical re-drafting of the Jets 2019 draft class.
Next: Round 1, Pick 3
Round 1, Pick 3: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Original Pick: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
Many didn’t exactly need hindsight for this first pick as it’s a move they would have made regardless. Nonetheless, the Jets’ decision to select interior defensive lineman Quinnen Williams over edge rusher Josh Allen last year was one that was heavily criticized from the start.
Williams was considered by many to be among the most elite prospects in the class with the physical tools and production to be an All-Pro at the next level. But after a slow rookie season, many are already questioning the pick.
Meanwhile, Allen shined in his first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars leading all rookies with 10.5 sacks despite only starting four games. The Kentucky product played in a stacked Jacksonville front-seven and it clearly paid dividends.
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While Williams is nowhere near a finished product, the lackluster production we saw in Year 1 combined with the team’s deep defensive line rotation makes him a poor fit in this re-draft.
Instead, Allen brings the versatility that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams would salivate over and more importantly, he fills a position of need.
In real life, Allen was selected four picks behind the Jets at No. 7 overall. This time, the Jets don’t let him slip past No. 3.
Next: Round 3, Pick 68
Round 3, Pick 68: Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State
Original Pick: Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
This was arguably the worst pick by any team in the entirety of the 2019 NFL Draft. However, much like the other selections, that’s only something we could declare in hindsight.
At the time, it actually seemed like a worthwhile gamble.
Jachai Polite was seen as a surefire first-round pick whose stock plummeted following a disastrous showing at the NFL Combine. Scouts were concerned about his work ethic and he fell all the way to the third round as a result.
Few could have predicted that he would never even suit up for a game with Gang Green, however.
Polite fell out of favor with the coaching staff early on and after failing to make an impact in the preseason, the Jets swiftly moved on from Polite. Fortunately, one of the most productive rookie receivers was selected just eight picks later.
Terry McLaurin was taken 76th overall by the Washington Redskins and it didn’t take long for the Ohio State product to make an impact. McLaurin finished with 58 grabs for 919 yards which was second among all rookies behind only A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans.
This would allow the Jets to address two of their most pressing needs with their first two picks and give them a legitimate building block at receiver to help out Sam Darnold.
A true slam-dunk pick if it were to have happened.
Next: Round 3, Pick 92
Round 3, Pick 92: Maxx Crosby, EDGE, Eastern Michigan
Original Pick: Chuma Edoga, OT, USC
The Jets waited until the third round to address the offensive line and they finally did so with the selection of USC offensive tackle Chuma Edoga at pick No. 92.
The jury is still out as to whether that was a good pick or not, but based solely on 2019 production, it definitely wasn’t the best pick to make at that spot.
Edoga struggled in his rookie season finishing with an abysmal Pro Football Focus grade of 48.9. The Jets are still hopeful that the 22-year-old will develop into a reliable starter along the offensive line, but that’s far from a given.
Meanwhile, just 14 picks later, the Oakland Raiders got themselves a steal in the form of Eastern Michigan edge rusher Maxx Crosby. Although seen as a developmental project, Crosby surprised many finishing with 10 sacks — trailing only the aforementioned Josh Allen among rookies.
In this scenario, the Jets land themselves two superb young edge rushers, completely solving their pass rush woes in one draft.
While it’s a shame that they weren’t able to address the offensive line any earlier, it’s a small price to pay for two players who should be cornerstones of the defense for years to come. Besides, the value just wasn’t there at different positions.
Crosby was one of the biggest steals of the draft and with the benefit of hindsight, the Jets have the foresight to see that.
Next: Round 4, Pick 121
Round 4, Pick 121: David Edwards, OG/T, Wisconsin
Original Pick: Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia
With the Jets passing on Edoga, the team still needed to address the offensive line in some way. Unfortunately, the value just wasn’t there for the most part late in this past draft class.
In our scenario, the Jets roll the dice on Wisconsin offensive tackle David Edwards who was taken by the Los Angeles Rams at pick No. 169 in the fifth round in real life.
Edwards started the final 10 games of the season for the Rams at guard after seeing only special teams action in the first six. And while he wasn’t anything special, he was solid and reliable as a rookie which give Rams fans hope for the future.
The 22-year-old finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 61.0 — over 12 points higher than Edoga who was taken two rounds earlier. And with the versatility to play either tackle or guard, he would be incredibly valuable to a Jets offensive line in need of a complete overhaul.
If anything, this pick would certainly be more worthwhile than the selection of West Virginia tight end Trevon Wesco who failed to do much of anything in his first NFL season.
Even with starter Chris Herndon injured for the year, Wesco couldn’t carve himself a regular role in the offense and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him cut before his rookie contract is up.
Edwards gives the Jets a young starter along the offensive line with a more impressive rookie showing than Edoga.
Next: Round 5, Pick 157
Round 5, Pick 157: Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn
Original Pick: Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota
There was nothing inherently wrong with the selection of linebacker Blake Cashman in the fifth round of last year’s draft. Due to injury, Cashman had to step into a starting role and while he struggled a bit, he showed that he could be a valuable addition to the roster.
Perhaps Cashman is just a career special-teamer who could make the occasional spot-start at linebacker. In the fifth round, you could do a lot worse.
But as the New York Giants showed, you could also do a lot better.
The Giants took Auburn wide receiver Darius Slayton with the 171st overall pick in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and the speedy playmaker made quite the impression in his rookie season.
Slayton finished with 48 catches for 740 yards while becoming one of Daniel Jones‘ favorite targets in the passing game. Imagine what the combination of Slayton and McLaurin would have done for Darnold in 2019?
Instead of throwing to the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Vyncint Smith, and Braxton Berrios, Darnold would have had two of the better young receivers in the league to help him out.
Oh, what could have been.
At least we get to right the Jets wrongs and select another legitimate playmaker on offense to assist Darnold as opposed to the second consecutive special-teamer that the Jets took in real life.
Cashman is a fine fifth-round pick, but Slayton is easily the top choice in hindsight.
Next: Round 6, Pick 196
Round 6, Pick 196: Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers
Original Pick: Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers
With their final pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Jets actually got the best value they could at a major position of need. Without a doubt, the selection of Blessuan Austin at pick No. 196 was the best pick of the entire draft for Gang Green — at least after one season.
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Austin began the season on the reserve/non-football injury list still recovering from his second consecutive season-ending torn ACL. But the Rutgers product was activated off the NFI list ahead of the team’s showdown with the New York Giants and he made quite the first impression.
After being inserted in the second half of the game, Austin showed out and held down a starting role until a late-season blunder drew the ire of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Nonetheless, Austin showed that he could be a legitimate building block on the Jets’ defense, as evidenced by his impressive 71.4 Pro Football Focus grade — the highest among Jets cornerbacks not named Brian Poole.
Other players considered here were Carolina Panthers sixth-round offensive tackle Dennis Daley, Washington Redskins seventh-round cornerback Jimmy Moreland, and even undrafted Baltimore Ravens center Patrick Mekari.
But in the end, Austin was the absolute best pick the Jets could have made.
They nailed it.